Passenger and Cargo Aviation Security
The Committee on Homeland Security has sole jurisdiction over all Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security matters, including the security of passengers and cargo within the U.S. aviation system.
More than ten years after al-Qaeda terrorists killed nearly 3,000 innocent Americans at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania, terrorists continue to focus on attacking commercial aircraft as a prime target. As demonstrated by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s Christmas Day 2009 attack on Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines Flight 253, TSA and other Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agencies must constantly work to improve passenger screening technologies and processes to respond to and stay ahead of evolving threats posed by our skillful and adaptive enemy. While advanced imaging technology and enhanced pat-down procedures are necessary today to protect American travelers, rigorous oversight and privacy protections must be in place. The Committee conducts robust oversight of TSA’s deployment of technology and implementation of processes and procedures related to passenger screening. This includes oversight of TSA’s transition away from a one-size-fits-all approach to passenger screening through programs such as TSA Pre✓™.
DHS/TSA also work to secure cargo carried aboard passenger and all-cargo aircraft. In an October 2010 attempted terrorist attack, two explosive devices originating in Yemen were identified and located aboard U.S.-bound cargo planes in the United Kingdom and Dubai. Although disrupted by U.S. and foreign partners through excellent intelligence and law enforcement efforts, the plot raised concerns about the effectiveness of current air cargo security measures for inbound aircraft. The Committee, through its oversight of TSA, will continue to examine the risks and consequences of terrorist attacks on passenger and all-cargo aircraft, as well as the development of cost-effective, intelligence-driven, and risk-based security measures to reduce those risks.